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Great Western Class 800 takes maiden voyage

The first of Great Western Railway’s new Class 800 fleet, specially designed and built by Hitachi for the government’s £5.7bn InterCity Express Programme (IEP), took its maiden voyage yesterday.

The Class 800, one of a fleet of 57 designed and built by Hitachi, made a special trip from London to Paddington to mark 175 years since the opening of the Great Western Main Line.

It features more seats, greater legroom, free wi-fi, power sockets at each seat, LCD seat reservation indicators and increased space in overhead luggage racks.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin, who was among the dignitaries riding on the train, said: “Britain’s railways have a glorious past and even brighter future thanks to the record amounts we are investing to modernise the network, deliver better journeys for passengers and drive economic growth.

“The unveiling of Great Western Railway’s first state-of-the-art IEP train offers a glimpse of the benefits passengers in the south-west and Wales will enjoy from 2017.”

Earlier this week, rail minister, Claire Perry MP, said that the decision on how to fund the conversion of the GWML Class 801 units to bi-mode operation will be made in the autumn.

Originally the Class 801 fleet was to be all electric, supported by 36 five-car bi-mode Class 800s, but last month, after receiving a formal submission from Agility Trains West, the train supplier, to convert the Class 801s to bi-mode operation, the DfT approved the decision.

The new trains are part of the biggest investment on the GWML since Brunel, including electrification of the line, which has experienced delays and spiralling costs.

The first section of the line, from Reading to Didcot, is being energised at the beginning of July following delays to the programme, but the initial completion dates have been delayed and there are ongoing concerns about the project going over budget. In the June/July edition of RTM we spoke to Network Rail’s Andrew Haynes about the work on the Great Western Route Modernisation programme, and how the team are now focused on sticking to the revised dates

The Class 800s, which are currently undergoing testing, are due to be introduced into service from next summer and will be used on services to London, Reading, Oxford, Swindon, Bath, Bristol and South Wales, as well as the north and south Cotswold lines.

They are part of a new generation of trains being unveiled after the new Govia Thameslink Class 700s went into service last week.

(Image c. Department for Transport)

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Merseyferry   01/07/2016 at 12:05

Great to see we are now getting in line with other countries and the "Age of the Train" has finally arrived in the UK.

Dave C   01/07/2016 at 12:07

Plastic rubbish.

Pistol   01/07/2016 at 12:11

From London to Paddington --- wow some distance!!!!!!!!

Jeds   01/07/2016 at 14:00

More seats, more leg room. Do the seats line up with the windows, are there any tables?

Jak Jaye   01/07/2016 at 16:33

Why are these Javelin clones being made in Japan whi not wait 'till Newton Aycliffe has the space or(shock,horror!) open up another factory cant wait for one of these to trundle past the sea wall at Dawlish! and all because you cant wait to get rid of the iconic HST can you see these plastic rubbish lasting that long?

Henry Law   02/07/2016 at 12:45

I wonder what effect, if any, the extra length of the vehicles will have on the ride quality? The configuration is very different from that of 26 metre vehicles on the continent, which have the bogies as close to ends as a UK 20 metre vehicle.

Andrew Gwilt   02/07/2016 at 19:49

The Class 800's and Class 801's are in fact Bi-Mode trains whilst the Class 802's are Electric only trains as Hitachi are to manufacture & assemble these brand new IEP trains to be used on Great Western Railway, Virgin Trains East Coast and Transpennine Express.

David   02/07/2016 at 20:42

Andrew, it's Class 800 and Class 802 which were planned to be bi-mode from the start. Class 801 was planned to be electric only, but the GWR 801s have been changed to be bi-mode too,

Andrew Gwilt   02/07/2016 at 22:03

Maybe that is why I got confused. But thanks anyway David.

Paul   10/07/2016 at 16:06

It will be a sad day when no longer you will be able to stick you head out of the window like the robust HST that will go on forever

Pdeaves   12/07/2016 at 14:38

A big 'boo' for electronic LCD seat reservation indicators, a technological solution for the sake of it. Imagine: thousands of holidaymakers get on, some with reservations, some without. What will happen? Everyone pushing and shoving, the 'reserved' people trying to find their seat, the 'unreserved ones' having to stop and look at every little reservation screen in case it's free. At least with the familiar, low-tech paper labels, if you haven't got a reservation you can go straight to an unreserved seat (or even see the labels when the train pulls in and go straight to a different carriage).

Splinter   15/07/2016 at 15:38

Phil, you are correct. And if they are like the LCD displays in the Voyagers, they will be out of order more often than they are working.

David Cook   21/07/2016 at 19:53

The real problem I have with LCD reservation screens is that you get on a train which shows a seat is unreserved, and a couple of stops later the screen suddenly changes and you find your seat has become reserved, leaving you in limbo. This has happened to me so many times that I'm going to film the seat reservation screen next time I travel to prove my point. I love HST's and will be really cheesed off when they are replaced.....

Mas   28/07/2016 at 09:07

The LCD system could easily be configured to show the point where the seat is reserved from ... eg 'Available to Milton Keynes'. Needs a change of mindset from the commercial people I think...

Steve   27/10/2017 at 08:01

Will be very sorry not to be able to enjoy future HST trips down to Cornwall. The IEPs just do not have that wow factor that the HSTs had when they first entered service. The HSTs heralded a renaissance in rail travel in the UK and are still a source of national pride being British through and through! It's tragic that an opportunity was not taken to replicate this national achievement with a new all British train!

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